The Nice treaty, anarchism and Nationalism

The Nice referendum is one of those odd occasions where anarchists are recommending the same vote as individuals and organisations we find odious. For instance some of those calling for a No vote are making racist panic arguments saying a Yes vote will result in 7.5 million Eastern Europeans moving to Ireland! It's rather obvious that anarchists who oppose all border controls have no time for such tripe.

But Nice also throws up more complex issues, in particular in relation to the new EU council voting system and the changes to Article 133 of the EU treaty. These will mean that the EU Council and Commission will be responsible for the negotiation of trade deals rather then the national governments of the EU.

The changes to Paragraph 4 of Article 133 says the "Council shall act by a qualified majority." This means that when an agreement is reached at the EU Council all member states must go along with it and cannot veto it. The 'qualified majority' referred to are the new, complex voting rules that will in effect allow the powerful countries of Italy, France, Germany and Britain (where most EU corporations have their headquarters) to have a much greater say in what decisions are made then the smaller ones.

This has of course got the nationalists all hot and bothered because it is a loss of 'national sovereignty' for Ireland. Irrespective of what decisions are made it appears they want them made by Irish politicians rather then European ones.

However anarchists do see these changes as a reason to oppose the Nice treaty. Not because they will reduce Irish sovereignty but we recognise that this new structure is to make it easier to impose the agenda of capitalist globalisation across the EU. But our answer to this is not a return to having Irish bosses making the decisions for us. Rather it is to insist that decisions on trade and services should be made by all the people of Europe and not by a select few, whether they meet on a national or international basis.

We recognise that this can only happen in a post-capitalist society - one extended not just throughout Europe but all over the globe. This is the only alternative to the false choice between European bosses and Irish bosses. In that context anarchists are internationalists.

But anarchists are more then internationalists. This label implies the continued existence of the nation state and co-ordination between such nation states. In reality though there are very few places on the globe where logical decision making areas will coincide with the current national boundaries.

In an anarchist society decisions will be made by all those they affect. In the case of a decision about a dam for instance it is obvious that this should involve all those on the rivers watershed (the area it drains) and should not be limited by whatever national boundaries happen to now exist along that river. In Europe rivers like the Rhine and the Danube flow through several countries on the way to the sea.

Decisions on the prevention of diseases like foot and mouth on the other hand are obviously best made on the basis of areas that have some natural boundaries that limit movement into them. In Ireland for instance even unionist politicians recognised that the Irish Sea rather then the border was the sensible demarcation point during the last outbreak.

So anarchists are more then internationalists. We desire a global world where national boundaries are of as little relevance as parish boundaries today. We oppose all forms of nationalism that try and set the people of one country above the people of another. Decisions should be made by those they effect, that requires a multitude of decision making areas from your street or workplace right up to the entire population of the globe.

First published in Workers Solidarity 72, September 2002 as 'Thinking about anarchism: Nice and Nationalism'

WORDS Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )


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